Parent-Teacher conferences should never be taken lightly, nor should they be a cause for stress. As a teacher, I recall so many of my peers being nervous before certain parents came in to talk about their children. And as a parent, I know many parents are nervous as well. Afterall, no one wants to hear something is wrong, and no one wants to share that something is wrong either.
Parents and teachers, alike, can prepare for Parent Teacher Conferences by following just a few simple steps, paying attention to the kids and keeping a some key things in mind.
How to prepare for Parent Teacher Conferences
This is a brief meeting
Perhaps the biggest misconception comes from the name. When business people think “conference” it usually means a lengthy meeting of the minds. I’d propose to rename it a “chat” or a “greeting.” Understand that at Parent Teacher conferences you only have 20 minutes. Be respectful of the teacher’s and other parents’ time and, if you feel you’ll need to discuss something longer, request a follow up after the initial meeting. Bring your calendar!
Invite other teachers
If your child sees teachers in addition to her regular classroom teacher and you believe that it would benefit you all to be in the same space for a discussion, confirm ahead of time that you’ll all be at the same meeting. Teachers usually try to get together and align their schedules, but sometimes that’s not possible. So if it’s important to you, be sure to send a note to both (any, all) teachers that you’d like to talk with.
Make a list
Keep a list of questions/concerns/thoughts in your phone (or an old fashioned notepad) so that when the conference time comes you won’t forget everything because there is so much on your mind. Have it out and ready so that the teacher knows that you have things to address as well.
Be open minded
Your child’s teacher may see a very different child than you see at home, that’s normal and expected. You may be shocked to hear how she keeps her desk very neat, or that he loves library time, but don’t second guess her. Yes, the teacher does know your child, she just doesn’t see the exact same behaviors as you see. Again, that’s normal and, often, expected.
Be on time! With classes full of nearly 30 students, teachers are forced to pack in the meetings and every second of your time counts. Try to arrive at least 5 minutes early and understand that every second you’re late, will throw off the schedule for every parent and teacher that follows you that day. If you’re going to be late, it’s better to call and reschedule.
© 2012, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.